Before Jim Bakker—host of The Jim Bakker Show and founder of Morningside—was widely known for his extensive work in television, he was a young college student at North Central University. Zealous for the Lord and hungry for the Spirit's presence, 19-year-old Bakker only wanted to do two things: preach the gospel and heal the sick. During that time, a prophetic intercessor named Phil Halverson pronounced seven prophecies over Bakker at a prayer meeting. In an exclusive interview for my "In Depth With Stephen Strang" podcast, Bakker told me that all of those prophecies have come true except one—that he would help usher in the coming of the Lord.
In my interview with Bakker, he opened up to me about the early days of his ministry and how the Lord prepared him to pioneer the Christian television industry. He said he never gives these types of interviews because the secular press always skews his words, but since we've been friends for quite some time, he felt safe to share things with me he hasn't shared with any other media outlet. He actually did two podcasts with me. You can listen to the first one by scrolling to the end of this article. In the second podcast, which releases next Friday on "In Depth With Stephen Strang," Bakker shares more of his story and gives details about the fall of his former show PTL Club, his experience in going to prison, his vindication, and his eventual re-entrance into ministry with Morningside and a new television show.
In my first podcast with Bakker, he told me about an encounter with the Spirit that changed his life forever.
"I wanted the Holy Spirit, but I wanted it God's way," Bakker says of the night Halverson prophesied over him. "So Phil Halverson was there and called all those who wanted the Holy Spirit to come to the center of the room, and he was going to pray for us. ... I received a baptism of the Spirit that was so real that I spoke in tongues all night long."
At that meeting, Bakker received prophetic direction that eventually led him to walk in God's call on his life for preaching and television.
"I was at the altar praying, and [Phil Halverson] laid hands on me," Bakker says. "He gave me seven things. I won't name them all, but they've all come true but one. And the one that hasn't happened yet is that he said I would help usher in the coming of the Lord. He said, 'You're going to have questions. The first one is to be answered no and the second one is yes.'"
That sounded strange to Bakker, but not too long afterward, he found his first question. His brother was planning to build a restaurant in Chicago and asked Bakker to partner with him. Had Bakker not received that word from Halverson, he would've said yes. But the Spirit held him back.
The next question quickly followed when Aubrey Sara—whom Bakker calls one of the greatest men he's ever met in his life—asked Bakker to preach with him.
"He asked me to hold a revival service in his church down in Burlington, North Carolina," Bakker says. "I had never preached a revival in my life, but I've been preaching ever since."
While working as an evangelist for Sara's church, Sara helped Bakker get ordained with the Assemblies of God. Soon afterward, Pat Robertson began asking Bakker to help him work on The 700 Club for the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN). At first, Bakker felt that taking Robertson's offer would be akin to backsliding. After all, he was preaching revivals, and Robertson wanted him to leave that to work on television.
"But Pat kept calling, and I began to pray," Bakker says. "And I felt that God wanted me to go help him pioneer—this was the world's first Christian TV station. ... Pat loved me, I believe, very much. He was just like a dad to me, [even though] he was only 10 years older than I was."
God used Bakker to help CBN raise money like never before. At first, CBN could never seem to raise enough money to meet their budget. Then Bakker did what others didn't think to do.
"The night I began to tell the truth that Christian TV was broke and if they didn't help, it was going to go under—that night, we met our budget for the first time," Bakker says. "That's when The 700 Club started. And that 700 Club was started in an anointing. ... That night, souls began to get saved. Since that day, millions have been saved through Christian television."
But after eight years of helping Robertson, God moved Bakker to California to help another Christian TV pioneer, Paul Crouch, with Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN).
"Paul told me, 'There's a TV station for sale, but I won't even try for it unless you help me," Bakker says. "I was the president [of TBN], and the company was started in my kitchen. ... Everywhere I've been, I've left a trail of ministry. And that's the greatest thing I have to give—that millions have been saved."
And ultimately, that's what Bakker says he truly cares about—saving souls and healing the sick. He remembers the day he felt the Lord call him to lay hands on the sick. He later became friends with healing evangelist Oral Roberts, whose healing miracles inspired Bakker's desire for the supernatural.
"I loved Oral so much," Bakker told me with tears in his eyes. "When I got to know him, he treated me with such respect. ... Oral taught me things, and I used to watch his TV show when I was in Bible school and before I went to Bible school. And I would cry over people being healed. And I would say, 'God, I want to do that. I want to heal people. I want people to get healed.'"
Soon, Bakker got to see those healing miracles in person. When later, he got involved in Christian television, he saw people healed during his meetings, even people outside the auditorium.
"I remember one lady was so crippled that she was just a twisted mess," Bakker says. "And I remember laying hands on her, and she fell to the floor, just like a mess, all tangled up. And I said, 'In the name of Jesus,' and she stood up, and she was healed! She was amazingly healed!"
Bakker has learned plenty of lessons over the years, not just about Christian TV or God's healing power, but also about His grace and forgiveness. There was so much Bakker had to share with me that we couldn't fit it all into one podcast. So be sure to tune in next week to "In Depth With Stephen Strang" to hear about how God led Bakker through some of the toughest moments of his life, including going to prison and losing the ministry he worked hard to build. In that episode, Bakker shares several things he's never shared publicly before, including how he was able to get back the name and brand for PTL, which had been lost. It's an amazing story of God's grace that the entire body of Christ needs to hear.
If Bakker's story encouraged you in your faith today, share this article with a friend and let it do the same for them. May God bless you!
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